Volary, Czechoslovakia

Gerda's liberation from the Holocaust and her first meeting with Kurt Klein, her future husband.

The girls marched for months across Germany with no knowledge of where they may end up by the end of it. There were questions about where they might be headed, like Auschwitz. They thought to themselves that this might be the end for them. Throughout the march the prisoners were killed from either the SS men, the cold weather, or the lack of food they received throughout the trek. (USHMM, 743)

Gerda describes some of the scenes that she witnessed on the march of girls being executed for trying to escape or those that were too sick to continue on in the march. “Then we heard screams and frightened begging from the forest. Three SS men had rounded up fourteen girls in the forest. Now they lined them up in front of us. The commandant took out his pistol. The girls screamed. The commandant fired again and again and the girls fell, one on top of the other.” (Klein, 191)

Around May of 1945, after months of marching across Germany, Gerda and the remaining prisoners, which was only 120 out of the original 2,000, were taken into an abandoned factory. The Allied powers were advancing and the remaining SS officers fled the scene. Before leaving they did try to plant a bomb that would kill the remaining prisoners, but for some reason it never went off. (Klein, 209) There was a sense of relief, but it did not last very long because the girls had no food and nowhere else to go.

A couple of days later while Gerda was sitting outside, she heard the noise of a Jeep approaching the factory. Two American soldiers got out of the car and one was Kurt Klein (her future husband). (Klein, 215) Gerda talks about the first gesture that Kurt did for her, by stating, “He held the door open. … He wanted me to feel that he had not seen the dirt or the lice. He saw a lady and I shall be forever grateful to him for his graciousness.” (Klein, 215) After this meeting, Gerda and the remaining girls were transported to a local school that had been converted into a hospital by the Red Cross. Gerda would remain there for several months recovering from the frost bite and the lack of food she had received. Kurt would visit her as often as he could and the two started to form a relationship.